Cotham records Commodores first ever NCAA tournament shutout.
Junior Caleb Cotham threw a complete-game four-hit shutout to lead Vanderbilt to a 6-0 win over Middle Tennessee in an elimination game Sunday afternoon at Patterson Stadium.
The Commodores (36-26) moved into its fourth NCAA Regional finals in five trips under Tim Corbin and will have to defeat host Louisville twice in order to advance to the Super Regionals.
"This was a very important game obviously, an elimination game," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "The performance we got from Caleb was nothing short of outstanding. I told him he needed to be Lance Armstrong on a bike in preparation for this heat, but he went out there and pitched against a very good hitting team and kept it down."
The Blue Raiders (44-18) were shutout for the first time this year as the best season in the history of the program came to an end.
Cotham (7-5) allowed just four hits and struck out eight batters with no walks in a career-high nine innings of work. He recorded the first complete game shutout for Vanderbilt in 28 NCAA tournament games and it was the second straight shutout for the Dores in Louisville.
"I didn't feel my fastball was there early," said Cotham. "My off speed stuff was OK and as the game went on, my fastball and slider started to get better and that really helped me out. Throughout the game I was able to throw a decent changeup and keep the ball down, and that helped out."
Aaron Westlake's solo homer in the second gave the Commodores an early 1-0 lead. It was his ninth homer of the year and sixth in the month of May.
Vanderbilt added a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Steven Liddle to make it 2-0. Joe Loftus walked to lead off the inning and Brian Harris was hit by MTSU starter Chad Edwards to put runners on first and second with no outs. Jonathan White grounded to first baseman Blake McDade who touched first base for the first out but could not convert the double play as Brian Harris successfully made it back to first in a rundown. Liddle then flied out to right to score Loftus to make it 2-0.
The Dores broke the game open with a four-run eighth inning to make it 6-0. Brian Harris led off with a double and Jonathan White followed with a two-run blast to right field, his second homer of the year, to double the advantage to 4-0. VU added two more two outs later when Aaron Westlake doubled and scored on Andrew Giobbi's RBI single to left. Jason Esposito capped off the scoring with a RBI single to left.
Aaron Westlake, the Southeastern Conference's leading hitter, finished 2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored to lead the Commodores.
Edwards (8-2) took the loss for MTSU, allowing two runs on three hits in 5.2 innings with two strikeouts and a walk.
Middle Tennessee 000 000 000 - 041 Vanderbilt 010 001 04x - 690Edwards, Guidry (6), Smalley (8), Wilson (8), Hyde (8) and Robertson, Acker. Cotham and Giobbi. W- Cotham 7-5, L- Edwards 8-2. Sv- None. HR: VU: Westlake (9), White (2)
VANDERBILT DEFEATS LOUISVILLE 8-4 TO FORCE FINALE
Commodores and Cardinals will play at 6 p.m. CT with the winner advancing to the Super Regionals.
Vanderbilt used a four-run second inning and a strong starting pitching performance by senior Nick Christiani to defeat Louisville 8-4 in NCAA tournament action Sunday night at Patterson Stadium.
The win extended the Commodores (37-26) season at least for another day as the teams will play on Monday at 6 p.m. CT with the winner advancing to face Cal State Fullerton in the Super Regionals next weekend
Christiani (6-6) gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings of work with four strikeouts and two walks. It was the 20th win of his career, tying him with Mike McLochlin for 10th on Vanderbilt's all-time list.
"I am really proud of Nick (Christiani). I just really wanted something good to happen for him. He was the right guy at the right time and he pitched well and kept us in the ballgame. We did a nice job of stopping a tough team in a tough environment."
The Commodores took a 1-0 lead in the first courtesy of three consecutive two-out single by Curt Casali, Steven Liddle and Andrew Giobbi, the latter an infield RBI hit to short.
The Cardinals tied the game in the bottom half on Phil Wunderlich's RBI single to right. Josh Richmond singled to right-center to start the inning and moved to second when Andrew Clark walked. VU starter Nick Christiani narrowly missed giving up a three-run homer to Chris Dominguez who hit a deep fly ball to left that was caught at the fence by Joe Loftus. Wunderlich then hit the two-out single to tie the game at 1-1.
VU took advantage of two errors by the Cardinals in the second to score four runs to take a 5-1 lead. Joe Loftus reached on an error to lead off the inning, Jason Esposito followed with a bunt single back to the pitcher and Riley Reynolds singled up the middle to bring in a run. Brian Harris hit a RBI single through the left side and then Jonathan White followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt that was fielded by Revesz who threw to third for the force. Chris Dominguez dropped the ball at third for the Cards second error of the inning and Curt Casali made them pay with a RBI single to left. Andrew Giobbi capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center to score Harris.
Harris' solo homer in the fourth, his ninth of the year, extended the lead to 6-1.
The Commodores added two more runs in the sixth to push the advantage to 8-1. Riley Reynolds singled and two outs later, Curt Casali walked before Steven Liddle lined an opposite field double to score both runs.
Louisville plated two runs in the sixth to cut the lead to 8-3. Adam Duvall and Andrew Clark singled to lead off the inning and Chris Dominguez walked to load the bases. Phil Wunderlich then grounded into a double play to Reynolds at second base, with Duvall coming into score. Next, Ryan Wright singled through the left side to score Clark and make it 8-3. Christiani then got Jeff Arnold to strike out to end the inning.
The Cardinals added another run in the eighth on a RBI single by Wunderlich to cut the lead to 8-4. They had runners on first and third with one out when Chase Reid entered the game in relief of Drew Hayes. Reid struck out Ryan Wright and pinch hitter Alec Lowery to end the threat.
He continued his clutch pitching into the ninth striking out John Dao and Drew Haynes before getting Josh Richmond to ground out to short to end the game. Reid picked up his second save in his last two outings and finished with 1.2 innings of hitless work with four strikeouts.
Vanderbilt 140 102 000 - 8(12)1 Louisville 100 002 010 - 483Christiani, Hayes (7), Reid (8) and Giobbi. Revesz, Mathis (4), Holland (7) and Arnold, Cheesebrough. W- Christiani 6-6, L- Revesz 4-2. Sv- Reid (2). HR: VU: Harris (9)